MBB Specialisation / Mentorship

BCG McKinsey and Bain expert hire specialization
New answer on Jun 21, 2022
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 17, 2022

Hi,

At what point do consultants start to specialise? Do they tend to specialise by function or industry (or both)?

How does one maneuver to align themselves into their areas of interest rather than being pigeonholed into something that he/she just happen to have a lot of experience in? 

Is it possible that an individual could be an expert in areas that may not appear to have natural synergies? Eg. Strategy, Digital and Private Equity, Aerospace and FMCG. (Random example)

Can individuals be part of one group and dotted lined to another groups? Or are they strictly defined buckets?

Also do you pick a mentor or are you assigned a mentor? How do you ensure you get a good mentor fit?

Thanks 

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Ian
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replied on Jun 18, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Great questions! And Christian has given some great answers.

Ultimately, you need to ask about all of this to your firm. When you're there, all of this will become much clearer.

At what point do consultants start to specialise? Do they tend to specialise by function or industry (or both)?

After about year 2. You can specialise by function or industry or both.

How does one maneuver to align themselves into their areas of interest rather than being pigeonholed into something that he/she just happen to have a lot of experience in? 

Networking internally. Putting your hand up for certain projects. Saying no to others. Participating in certain practices.

Is it possible that an individual could be an expert in areas that may not appear to have natural synergies? Eg. Strategy, Digital and Private Equity, Aerospace and FMCG. (Random example)

Yes.

Can individuals be part of one group and dotted lined to another groups? Or are they strictly defined buckets?

Both!

Also do you pick a mentor or are you assigned a mentor? How do you ensure you get a good mentor fit?

Even if you are “assigned” a mentor, don't go this route. In life, mentors are people you naturally get along with. This is such a complex question, but mostly I just have to say don't force it.

A mentor will like the mentee and the mentee will like the mentor. There will be natural chemistry where the mentor sees themselves in the mentee and/or sees potential in them.

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Cristian
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replied on Jun 17, 2022
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate (tracked) | Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi there, 

Wow, lots of great questions here and none of them are easy. Let me take them one by one. 

At what point do consultants start to specialise? Do they tend to specialise by function or industry (or both)?

Usually around their second year, but there is no rule, of course. For most it's rather an organic, natural process, rather than an intentional one. The most successful consultants I've met actually pursued a group of people that they wanted to work with, rather than a specific topic or industry. It's the people that will actually determine how much you're enjoying the job. 

How does one maneuver to align themselves into their areas of interest rather than being pigeonholed into something that he/she just happen to have a lot of experience in? 

In short, you learn to say ‘no’ and accept the consequences that come with that. It will be harder to get staffed in something you like and don't have experience in rather than something that you already know, but if you're consistent at it, over a longer period of time it will get easier and easier as you build your experience and network. 

Is it possible that an individual could be an expert in areas that may not appear to have natural synergies? Eg. Strategy, Digital and Private Equity, Aerospace and FMCG. (Random example)

Yes. Funky combos can actually makes you more attractive for staffing.

Can individuals be part of one group and dotted lined to another groups? Or are they strictly defined buckets?

It depends on the firm, but they can usually have this dotted line. Practices and groups within firms are constantly re-organising, so it's not useful to think of them in terms of silos. The only thing to bear in mind is what are the expectations of each of these groups. Some practices, for instance, require that you do x% of your projects / staffing time within their area. So that's rather the metric to keep an eye on.

Also do you pick a mentor or are you assigned a mentor? How do you ensure you get a good mentor fit?

Usually you pick on. Find the people who inspire you and gradually get closer to them. You don't have to literally ask them to be your ‘mentor’. The point is rather to shadow them as much as possible, get staffed on their projects, ask for their advice and help, and help them in return whenever they need it. Mentorship is a two-way street. 

Best,
Cristian


 

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Ashwin
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replied on Jun 17, 2022
Ex Manager Bain and company | INSEAD

Hi ,

It depends a lot on the firm and the geography. Till you reach manager level your staffing tends to be fluid meaning you can be put in any of the projects, post that you tend to align to a sector or functional grouping but again there many managers and principals who work in multiple sectors too. 

It used to be sectoral specialization mostly but now many firms are focusing on building cross sector functional expertise especially in digital , analytics etc 

With regard to choosing a mentor, the firm will typically assign you a mentor but people who do well in the industry tend to network and seek out mentors that fit their career goals and aspirations 

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Clara
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replied on Jun 21, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

It very much depends on the office. For instance, in many european offices (e.g., Madrid, Milano), they don´t let you specialize at the beggining, since they see value in you seeing many things before. 

In the US, however, it´s very different, since people have a lot to say in their staffing. 

And yes, you can change specializations or have multiple (many partners in small offices do have several CSTs). 

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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